Stars of Week 8

QB: Daniel Jones, NYG: 28-41, 322 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs          

RB: Aaron Jones, GB: 13 carries, 67 yards, 0 TDs (7 catches, 159 yards, 2 TDs)                                      

WR: Mike Evans, TB: 11 catches, 198 yards, 2 TDs            

TE: Ryan Griffin, NYJ: 4 catches, 66 yards, 2 TDs

We’ve got two unexpected New Yorkers, a rising RB and an OG wide receiver as our week 8 honor roll. We start with Daniel Jones, who is establishing himself as the New York Giants’ next franchise QB. Despite being panned by virtually everyone on draft day, the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft has largely impressed. Jones played quite well in the loss against the Lions, with 4 TDs and over 300 passing yards, and nary a pick. Jones remains a QB2 who can ascend into lineups based on matchups.

Free Aaron Jones became a narrative for folks in the fantasy world, and Jones has in fact been unleashed – finally! Jones made his way into top honors via the passing game, amassing an unheard-of 159 yards receiving for an RB, while scoring two TDs. Jones has risen to a weekly RB1 status.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans has had an incredibly up and down season, with two weeks with 40 plus point performances in PPR leagues to go along with multiple games pulling off disappearing acts, including a 0 reception game against New Orleans in week 5. The Titans came into the contest with a top passing D, and Evans abused them. Evans has to remain a weekly starter, even if he will frustrate at times.

We end the honor roll with Jets tight end Ryan Griffin, who has been keeping the seat warm for Chris Herndon as he nears return from injury. Griffin has been a solid but unspectacular tight end, spending his first six years with the Texans before moving to the Jets earlier this offseason. Griffin is extremely unlikely to repeat his two TD performance anytime soon, so view this as nothing more than a great one-time performance unnecessary of your fantasy attention.

Week 8 Takeaways – A Closer Look 

Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.

- Ty Johnson, RB – DET: 7 carries, 25 yards, 0 TDs

- Tra Carson, RB – DET: 12 carries, 34 yards, 0 TDs

Analysis: The Detroit Lions lost running back Kerryon Johnson to a season ending injury last weekend. In the meanwhile, FAAB budgets were blown by many folks in order to bring on Ty Johnson into the fold. Well, head coach Matt Patricia threw an immediate wrench into that plan, as little owned Tra Carson outcarried Johnson by a 12 to 7 margin. As for just slightly more encouraging news for Johnson’s owners, Johnson actually outsnapped Carson by a 23 to 19 count, with JD McKissic also playing for 16 snaps to go along with six snaps for Paul Perkins. None of the quartet did much to establish himself with his snaps, so if there’s a silver lining, it’s that there’s still hope for a member of this deep RB committee to assert himself into a lead role, with Johnson the most likely to do so. But in at least the immediate term, Johnson needs to sit on your bench unless you are in dire straights. So Johnson’s stock rating is a hold, while Carson should also be added to benches in deep leagues (12 plus teams) based on speculation. We’ll see if the Lions’ RB committee morphs over the next few weeks.

- David Montgomery, RB – CHI: 27 carries, 135 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: The Chicago Bears traded lead back Jordan Howard to the Eagles prior to the 2019 draft, with the intent to draft his successor that April. In came running back David Montgomery from Iowa State as the Bears’ third round pick. So far the results have been mixed, with Montgomery heading into this past Sunday’s game with only 231 yards, a 3.3 yards-per-carry mark and 2 TDs. Much of the issue has been out of Montgomery’s control, however. The Bears’ offensive line has struggled in run blocking, and the QB play has been well below average. Matt Nagy has also struggled in his play calling, as best evidenced by calling only 7 running plays in week 7 against the Saints, while electing to throw it with Mitch Trubisky a whopping 54 times! Ok, so all of this is meant to say that Montgomery still has talent. This past week against the Broncos, Nagy righted the ship and gave Montgomery 27 carries. What do you know…Montgomery scored a TD and rushed for 135 yards! It’s crazy what happens when you actually stick to a solid rushing plan. Unfortunately for Montgomery, subpar QB play won’t be going away any time this season, which means that Montgomery will continue to be a focal point for defenses. Don’t expect this past Sunday’s performance to be the norm, but an average of 80 yards and a TD every other game is reasonable. So Montgomery will continue to fall along the low end RB2/flex corridor for the rest of the season, dependent upon matchup. 

- Chris Conley, WR – JAC                                 4 catches, 103 yards, 1 TD 

Analysis: Minshewmania has been one of this season’s pleasant NFL surprises, and he has singlehandedly brought the Jacksonville Jaguars back to relevancy. Rookie QB Gardner Minshew has stepped in seamlessly for Nick Foles, developing a great connection first with WR DJ Chark and now also with Chris Conley. The fifth year WR started his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, transitioning over to the Jaguars for the 2019 season. Conley has served as the third receiver for the team behind Dede Westbrook and Chark. Conley started out the season strong, with 170 yards and a TD over the team’s first two games. Conley then receded over the next four games, but he’s back again! Over the last two games, Conley has 186 yards and a TD, having been targeted by Minshew seven times in each game. With Westbrook’s status for Week 9 up in the air due to injury, Conley has the potential to be a great play against the leaky Houston Texans’ secondary. Conley would fall into WR3/flex territory if Westbrook sits, and borderline flex (i.e. deeper leagues) in case Westbrook plays. Keep an eye as to Westbrook’s status, but Conley can help next week if you need a WR. Conley is likely more of a short-term help than a long-term one, but grab him for week 9 and see what happens afterward.

- Jonnu Smith, TE – Tennessee Titans: 6 catches, 78 yards, 1 TD

Analysis: The Tennessee Titans have had strong tight end play for the last several years, as Delanie Walker has been an anchor for the team. With Walker out the past two weeks due to injury, third year tight end Jonnu Smith has picked up the slack. Smith has 142 yards receiving and a TD, which has – luckily for Smith – also coincided with quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s insertion into the lineup. Tannehill targeted Smith 7 times this past Sunday against the Buccaneers, which led the team. Smith has good hands for a tight end and possesses high end athleticism, scoring very high in burst and straight line speed in draft testing. So, Smith has all of the tools to become a persistent factor in the Titans’ passing game in place of Walker. Of course Walker’s availability going forward will directly impact Smith’s value, but in the absence of Walker, Smith should be viewed as a high end TE2. That makes him a viable starter in deeper leagues and when facing favorable matchups. If you need a TE, put in a claim for Smith. As long as Walker remains out, he can help you at tight end. 

Rapid Fire Pickups 

Each week we throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been referenced above, and 2) a player available in more than 50% of leagues.

QB: Derek Carr, OAK

RB: Jaylen Samuels, PIT (with James Connor’s injury, go get Samuels)

RB: Mark Walton, MIA (his show now that Kenyan Drake has been traded)

WR: AJ Brown, TEN

WR: Mecole Hardman, KC

TE: Dallas Goedert, PHI